The table tennis is more Chinese than it seems

There's dominance and then there's the Chinese at table tennis.

allon sinai Olympics 88 (photo credit: )
allon sinai Olympics 88
(photo credit: )
There's dominance and then there's the Chinese at table tennis. Watching the round of the last 16 of the women's Olympic competition on Thursday I couldn't help but wonder whether I might have accidently entered the Chinese national championships. Nine nationalities were supposedly represented in the fourth round of the competition, but just three of the 16 players on show were'nt born in China. There were two Chinese in Dutch uniform and another couple playing for the US. Even Austria and the Dominican Republic got in on the act and have each imported a world class star. It goes without saying that the quarterfinals will be a purely Chinese affair, unless of course you consider Xue Wu as one of the Dominican Republic's very own. With just three berths available for each country at the Olympic table tennis tournament, it's no surprise that many players from the table tennis obsessed China have been lured by the West's temptations and by a guaranteed place at the Games. This phenomenon, however, is not just limited to table tennis. Moroccan Rashid Ramzi won the gold medal in the 1,500 meter race for Bahrain earlier this week and two Brazilians, who go by the ludicrous yet appropriate nicknames of Geor and Gia, will be playing for the bronze medal in the beach volleyball on Friday for, who else, but Georgia. Israeli sport is also guilty of similar behavior, often utilizing the law of return to entice athletes. The sportsmen are always happy to enjoy the benefits the country offers them during their career, but leave the minute they retire. Athletes are obviously free to do as they like and no one can blame a Chinese table tennis player for choosing to play for the US, and perhaps also making the most of the opportunity to start a new life abroad. All of this does, however, make the national importance associated with winning an Olympic medal, in Israel and many other countries, look nothing short of ridiculous. This isn't to say that Shahar Zubari's bronze medal is any less impressive, only that the words of President Shimon Peres about how "Israel was mourning in a sea of despair until Zubari brought hope, light and happiness to Israel", don't belong in the 21st century.